Caught between the competing interests of Rancho Santa Fe and Fairbanks Ranch, the Board of Supervisors delayed deciding the issue Wednesday that divides the two wealthy communities: What to do with increasing traffic in the San Dieguito River Valley.
Fairbanks Ranch would like the county to drop plans to expand San Dieguito Road from two to four lanes and use it as a major east-west route.
But Rancho Santa Fe, the older and heretofore more politically potent of the two, says the plan is needed to keep the already crowded Via De La Valle, which goes through Rancho Santa Fe, from suffering virtual gridlock.
"There is fear and apprehension in our community about a four-lane freeway that could bisect our community," said Marvin Levine, president of the Fairbanks Ranch Assn.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Friday October 16, 1987 San Diego County Edition Part 1 Page 2 Column 6 Metro Desk 1 inches; 27 words Type of Material: Correction
A map in Thursday's edition showing proposals for Route 728 was incorrect. Under the city's plan, the 728 route would follow Del Mar Heights Road and El Camino Real, then turn east on Via de la Valle.
"This would be devastating to our property values, our privacy and our quality of life," he said. "The noise impact and safety problems would be immense, and it would provide a huge potential for traffic accidents."
To emphasize the community's political clout, Levine signalled for the 100 Fairbanks Ranch residents in the audience at the supervisors' meeting to rise. Both communities had organized car caravans to pack the chambers at the County Administration Building on Pacific Highway.
For two decades, the county's long-range plans have shown San Dieguito Road being widened to become Route 728, connecting Interstate 5 with Del Dios Highway and taking traffic away from Rancho Santa Fe.
After five hours of sometimes emotional debate, the supervisors moved to delay further discussion of Route 728 until March. Rancho Santa Fe promised additional traffic studies and engineering reports.
William Paul, president of the Rancho Santa Fe Assn., said the decision not to scrap 728 represents a victory for Rancho Santa Fe.
Paul said it would be folly for the county to abandon its 102-foot-wide right-of-way along San Dieguito Road just as mammoth developments to the east of Fairbanks Ranch such as Rancho Cielo and Santa Fe Valley are moving toward approval.
"The county purchased that right-of-way through the heart of Fairbanks Ranch to provide a major connection between Del Mar and Escondido," Paul said.
"What a lot of Fairbanks Ranch people haven't realized, or refuse to admit, is that the plan for 728 has existed since the 1960s," he said "It was included in the specific plan for Fairbanks Ranch and residents signed off on it when they bought their property."
No East-West Highway
The county plan, which Rancho Santa Fe is fighting to preserve, calls for San Dieguito Road to be expanded to four lanes and then extended across the San Dieguito River to connect with the Del Dios Highway, east of Rancho Santa Fe.
Rancho Santa Fe would then be spared much of the traffic which uses Del Dios and Via De La Valle between Interstate 5 and Interstate 15. (Via De La Valle is the western extension of the Del Dios Highway.)
At present, no east-west highway exists between California 78 at Oceanside, and Miramar Road, 22 miles to the south in San Diego.
Paul suggested that a joint powers agreement should be formed among inland and coastal communities to pay for new east-west roads in North County. County road funds are barely sufficient to provide maintenance on existing roads, county officials concede.
As if money problems and the Rancho Santa Fe-Fairbanks Rancho dispute are not enough, the future of Route 728 is also complicated by city-county rivalry over the San Dieguito River Valley. The city controls the western portion of the valley at Interstate 5.
Councilwoman Abbe Wolfsheimer, who represents the area, has said that turning San Dieguito Road into a four-lane highway would encourage development in the area and hurt her efforts to preserve the San Dieguito River Valley as a park.